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Key wants to double China trade in five years

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Kate Chapman of NZPA

Beijing, July 7 NZPA - Prime Minister John Key wants to double New Zealand's two-way trade with China over the next five years.

He talked of the endless potential in the Asian country but did little to ease fears about Chinese control of New Zealand's assets.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) controlled all foreign investment in New Zealand, he said.

Two-way trade between China and New Zealand was $10 billion last year. Of that $6b was Chinese exports to New Zealand.

"To double from $10-$20b in terms of two-way trade it's going to happen by New Zealand companies exporting a lot more, not New Zealanders importing a lot more because our population can't support that," Mr Key said.

He believed New Zealand could become a net exporter to China.

Mr Key said he had a very good meeting with China's Premier Wen Jiabao this afternoon.

"I presented the ambitious goal of trying to double our two-way trade by 2015 and Premier Wen thought that was achievable and something they were prepared to support," he told journalists following the meeting in the Great Hall of the People.

Mr Wen suggested New Zealand and Chinese companies could work together in third markets.

He was also concerned about the price of dairy products and wanted New Zealand to do what it could to ensure prices did not rise too rapidly.

Mr Key said there was also potential for New Zealand companies in China, particularly in wine, film, dairy, beef and seafood.

There were more New Zealanders that travel to China than vice versa so that was another area for growth, Mr Key said.

"They're (Chinese government) going to encourage Chinese visitors to come on holiday in New Zealand so that's good news and I'll have to tell the Minister of Tourism, I'm sure he'll be delighted."

Mr Key is the Tourism Minister.

Asked about Chinese business interests in New Zealand, Mr Key said they did not discuss specific cases, such as the sale of the Crafar farms.

The trade relationship between China and New Zealand had started at the basic level of commodities but the next level of that was investment in each other's countries and joint investment in third countries.

"There are really exciting opportunities there for us."

Asked where China businesses could grow in New Zealand, he said knowledge was a big area.

"I made it clear that investment in New Zealand is welcome if it adds value.

"The Chinese market has had open entry into New Zealand for quite some time," Mr Key said.

Tariffs continued to decrease under the free trade agreement (FTA) and Chinese consumers were becoming increasingly wealthy, he said.

"Ultimately overseas investment in New Zealand is always subject to the OIO and subject to the rules around the Overseas Investment Act and unless it meets those conditions...then that investment will be rejected but that's not specific to China."

The two-year review of the FTA would be discussed when the two leaders next met for the East Asian Summit in Vietnam later this year.

Pandas were another topic of discussion today.

Mr Key has previously mentioned wanting to bring two endangered Chinese pandas to New Zealand.

However, they are in hot demand and can be costly.

"What he indicated is there's obviously a lot of international demand...and on top of that there's obviously a reduced supply of them but New Zealand's relationship puts us in a very good position to be considered."

It took six years to get pandas to Adelaide, Australia.

"It wasn't no to the pandas and he (Wen) actually thought the Chinese public would love seeing kiwis."

Mr Key has previously suggested swapping two kiwis for two pandas.

Following his meeting with Mr Wen Mr Key met with Vice President Xi Jinping.

At the start of the meeting Mr Xi thanked New Zealand for their hospitality when he was in New Zealand last month.

He did not mention Green Party co-leader Russel Norman's scuffle on the forecourt of Parliament when he tried to enter the building.

Mr Key has said while he would not apologise for New Zealanders' right to protest he would express regret that Mr Xi was not able to enter the building unimpeded.

(Kate Chapman travelled to China with the help of funding from the Asia New Zealand Foundation).

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